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Chair of the Central Election Commission resigns

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Wednesday, August 14
Chair of the Central Election Commission of Georgia, (CEC) Zurab Kharatishvili, resigned from his position on August 12. Kharatishvili already submitted the resignation application to the Parliament of Georgia. His deputy, Davit Kirtadze, will temporarily perform Kharatishvili’s duties. Parliament is authorized to make a decision about Kharatishvili’s resignation within 15 calendar days. If the parliament fails to make the decision, the chair shall be considered resigned on the day following the expiration of the mentioned term.

No later than 15 days after the termination of authority of the CEC chair, the President of Georgia, as a result of consultations with the civil sector, shall submit to the CEC 3 candidates for the position of the CEC chair. According to the official information released by the CEC, the decision on the election of the CEC chair shall be made by the CEC members appointed by the political parties within 5 days.

The new chairman shall be elected if any of the candidates receives 4 or more than 4 votes. If the CEC chair fails to be elected by the above mentioned rule, the Parliament of Georgia, within 7 days, shall elect the CEC chair out of the same candidates nominated by the president of Georgia.

Nino Lomjaria, Head of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) said the position of the CEC chairman is important as the latter is authorized to make various important decisions. She said the election of the new chair may increase the tension before the upcoming presidential elections because the Georgian Dream coalition may not approve of the president’s candidacies.

Non-governmental organizations plan to present their candidate on this post to president. The head of Transparency International Georgia, Eka Gigauri, said Kharatishvili's decision was unexpected, but non-governmental organizations will negotiate and pick one candidate so that "the CEC will have a principled, professional and impartial chairman."

Prime Minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, said Kharatishvili resigned at a bad time. He thinks that is was another intrigue by the United National Movement (UNM), because he said Kharatishvili is a member of their team. However, the PM is confident that everything will be fine during the election period and nothing can hinder the election campaign.

Members of the Georgian Dream (GD) share the opinion of the Prime Minister. They call Kharatishvili's decision irresponsible and incomprehensible.

Representatives of the parliamentary minority also have many questions. Kharatishvili’s resignation from post now, when only 2 months are left till the presidential elections, is incomprehensible for the UNM members too. However, UNM member Goka Gabashvili said it is better to wait for Kharatishvili’s explanations.

Some members of the non-parliamentary opposition believe that Kharatishvili did not resign voluntarily. Kakha Kukava, leader of Free Georgia thinks Kharatishvili’s decision looks like a script from a Sicilian movie with the UNM as the main suspect.

Levan Vepkhvadze, member of the Christian Democratic Movement (CDM) thinks Kharatishvili is a "victim” of a UNM and GD confrontation. "The GD wants first place in the elections, the UNM wants second place, so this could become the reason for Kharatishvili's resignation," he stated.

Before Kharatishvili makes his first public comment over his decision, there is a version that Kharatishvili is planning to take part in the October 27 elections. However, political analysts do not think this version is absolute nonsense. However, analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili thinks that after appointing the new chair of the CEC, the UNM may freely suggest that the elections were falsified.